Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton says that Formula 1 must act before the fans falls out of love with the sport.
After the round one in Australia, the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) published an open letter blasting the “obsolete and ill-structured” decision-making process which they deem to be harming the sport, while the sport’s decision makers failed to agree on a quick fix for qualifying ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain GP.
“I think our objective is not to be the decision makers,” Hamilton explained in Bahrain.
“We don’t want to be the decision makers – we are just the only ones out there that can know what more is needed in order to make racing fun.
“As drivers we love the sport, we love racing, we love wheel-to-wheel racing.
“We started off in go-kart racing and we aspired to be one of the greats in the past and now you are driving and you are not challenged in a way you should be challenged, either physically or mentally, by the car and the rules and the decisions being taken for the rules are going in the wrong direction and we can’t stand still and let it happen.
“People are falling out of love with the sport and ultimately it will lead to you guys and also for us. I don’t want that. It has the opportunity to be the greatest sport in the world.”
In the paddock on Thursday, the widespread feeling was that the sport was “crazy” to have not scrapped the new ‘musical chairs’ system after Australia.
“It’s crazy,” said F1 legend Niki Lauda, “because we saw in Australia what happened. The teams and drivers were all in agreement.
“Nevertheless, Jean Todt wants to try again. And (Bernie) Ecclestone. Because they feel that their toes have been stepped on,” the Mercedes team chairman told Osterreich newspaper.
“They say ‘We make the rules!’ So now we still have this stupid qualifying,” added Lauda.
Lewis Hamilton is not part of the GPDA – he claimed he withdrew his membership a number of years ago due to “personal reasons”, and the Briton is not alone. Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, Felipe Massa and Max Verstappen are not part of the group either. But the drivers insist their disgruntled voice is a united one.
“The reason behind the letter is to show that we care,” Jenson Button, who along with Sebastian Vettel signed off the powerful note on behalf of the GPDA.
The F1 veteran Button, added: “We are very passionate about the sport. As kids we grew up loving watching Formula One and dreaming of being in a Formula One car and racing against the best drivers in the world.